ABOUT ESTANCIA DE ANIMAS
Bethshean Mexico Mission is located in Estancia de Animas, México. The town of Estancia de Animas is approximately a 2 hour drive due west of San Luis Potosi, Mexico, which is north of Mexico City. It is situated on a high, flat plateau with an average elevation of 6,000 feet and has a resident population of approximately 4,000.
Ninety percent of the houses in Estancia are made of adobe with surrounding adobe walls. Estancia de Animas is influenced by the local steppe climate. There is little rainfall throughout the year. The climate here is classified as BSk by the Köppen-Geiger system. The temperature here averages 62.06 F. The rainfall here averages 17.4 inches.
Estancia de Animas was first established as a railroad station where people brought their cattle to load onto the boxcars. The original name of the town was Estancia de Animales, which translated means Station of Animals. When the town began to grow up around the railroad station people did not want their town to be known as the Station of Animals so they changed the name to Estancia de Animas, which means Station of Souls.
Mexicans are generally warm and friendly. They are known for their carefree attitude and capacity to enjoy life. Life in Mexico revolves around the family, which takes priority above everything else.
While a student at Atlanta Christian College (now Point University), I traveled to central Mexico—as many students do—on a short-term mission trip. I came home a changed person. I was so burdened by what I saw and was convinced someone needed to go and bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Central Mexico area. I was also convinced that person was not me! So, I began my missions work by spreading the word and praying God would raise up the right person to go. I also began working with the Bell Telephone Company saving money and raising funds to help get someone started as a missionary there.
No one emerged.
What finally became apparent was the person God was raising up to go was me. So, in January 1970, I moved to the city of San Luis Potosi. I spoke no Spanish. In my prayers, I asked God that if He wanted me to be here to grant me the ability to not only learn the language, but to be able to speak it as a native. He granted that request.
Soon I started a home for children who came to the city from poor, rural villages to learn. They would go to school during the day, and I would teach them about Jesus in the evening. The LORD raised up many workers for Bethshean as a result of those young people he brought to me.
For some reason—perhaps because I had a heart for children—people began bringing me elderly. My eyes became opened to the many elderly who were not allowed in nursing care because they were Protestant rather than Catholic, and who were out on the streets fending for themselves. My home began morphing from a place of care for the young to place of care for the aged.
Land was then given to the mission for the purpose of building a place where the elderly could be cared for. And so, we moved out to the high desert in the village of Estancia de Animas, where Bethshean Mexico Mission continues to thrive. After establishing the only Protestant elderly care home in the nation, many branches of ministry soon followed.
“Bethshean” is a Hebrew word from the Old Testament. It literally means “a house of rest.” This applies not just to our elderly care center but became a benediction over the multiple branches of our mission. Whether we are working with families, couples, pastor-training, patients, congregations, volunteer teams, individuals or communities, we desire for people to experience the peace that is only possible through new life in Christ, and a transformative healing at every level of the human soul.
Now 50 years later, we need continued partnerships more than ever to keep growing and blessing the Central Mexico region.
~Cris Garcia, Founder, Bethshean Mexico Mission